Regent Confirmation Must Look Beyond Unpopular Political Beliefs

The University of California, San Diego Guardian, 9/29/11.

UC Regent David Crane has quite the track record. He served as a special economic advisor to former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. He donated large sums of money to aid Republican Tom Campbell’s attempt to snatch Barbara Boxer’s senate seat and even helped fund San Francisco’s Measure B — a bill that attempted to curb the pension and health benefits of city employees. Crane’s Feb. 27 op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle sparked controversy when he openly expressed his anti-union and pro-collective bargaining political stance. In short, he’s a liberal’s nightmare.

Politics aside, Crane has consistently expressed a concern for tuition hikes while keeping students in mind. His goals as a UC Regent parallel those of students — lowering tuition is one of his main concerns. So why won’t Crane be back this coming winter? The answer comes down to logistics.

Crane is not a confirmed regent just yet, since he was appointed at the last minute by Schwarzenegger in December 2010. His appointment sparked controversy among those who disagree with his pro-collective bargaining and anti-union stances. Because of the nature of his appointment, Crane has to be voted in by the California Senate by Dec. 27 in order to become an officially confirmed regent who can serve a full term. But the state Senate will be in recess from Dec. 5 until Jan. 4. This means a mere eight days and a couple senators singing “Auld Lang Syne” is all that’s keeping Crane from being reinstated.

Whether one supports Crane’s platforms or not, the reality of this obstacle is absurd and once again highlights the convoluted nature of our state’s bureaucracy. It’s apparent that many bureaucrats disagree with Crane’s anti-union stance (rightly so) but because of this, they are standing idly by while Crane loses his position due to a logistical error rather than a problem of qualifications. In essence, his right to a fair trial is being violated.

Crane’s consideration for the position of a confirmed UC Regent should be based solely on his goals for the public university system and his actions thus far, despite heavy student and worker opposition based on Crane’s right-wing stances on unions and collective bargaining. The state’s political apathy towards Crane is far from subtle and although he’s nothing but open with his political views, he is sadly becoming the butt of this bureaucratic joke.

Crane’s recent statements in the Guardian are far more democratic than expected. His concern for the perpetually undermined middle class is both surprising and comforting but do not reflect his overall political stance.

We may not all agree with his less-than-empathetic view for union members (read: blue collar America) but like any fair governing board, the UC Board of Regents (which currently consists of 26 voting members) should have a diverse bevy of political viewpoints to be as effective as possible.

The ability to juggle mounds of bureaucratic nonsense may be a necessary trait for a UC Regent — but it shouldn’t be necessary to keep their jobs.

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